247 N. Collier Blvd. Marco Island, FL
239-394-9493

Our Story...

"To an Italian, food is everything. It's life itself, to be enjoyed and to be shared."

How many times have you heard this? How many stories have started just this way? Well, this is not just another version of the same old song. This is a story of risk taken, of opportunity grabbed, of commitment and dedication and promise.

Brooklyn-born husband & wife Jimmy and Susan Barney came to Marco Island in the early 1990's, after Jimmy had been recruited by the culinary department of the island's Marriott hotel. A meat buyer and butcher by trade, Jimmy likes to say that he was " born in an apron. " When the chance to come to Southwest Florida beckoned, they leapt at it. After a stint in their kitchen, Jimmy moved to the service end of the hotel's operation. " I wanted to learn all aspects of the environment, from soup to nuts. " And while he had past experience, Susan didn't. She did have the same drive, though, and ever-loyal, joined him in his endeavors. Side by side, they plunged into a new world, in a new part of the world, and worked tirelessly. They worked in local restaurants, developed a clientele that followed them, built relationships along the way, and mastered customer service. They were happy.

But something was missing.

Jimmy tells it best. "When you're born in Brooklyn, it never leaves you. It's a part of you. We missed it, especially the food. And I missed the kitchen. There's nothing wrong with serving food, mind you, but I wanted to serve MY food, food that I prepared. That's what makes this so special. " So when a quaint little space off Collier Boulevard - already fitted for food preparation - became available, they leapt again. And in October, 1997 The Italian Deli was born. " We tried lot's of different names, Jimmy's, J and S, then we figured, ' why don't we just call it what it is?' ", Susan remembers. Starting yet another eatery in a competitive market already filled with other fine establishments was a risk, and a big one. " But we knew we could make it. We knew we could bring something dynamic and different to the Island. We knew the food we enjoyed, we just had to convince others to like it as well."

It's safe to say they succeeded, step by little step at a time. At first, the menu was simple--sandwiches and appetizers, "Italian comfort food ", eat-in or take-out. Catering followed, for events at homes, businesses, banquets. The menu was expanded, and so was the kitchen, to produce more of the classic Italian dishes. New equipment and a small but select wine collection came next. The quaint space became even more so through changes to décor. The only constant was the commitment to quality. With passion, Jimmy explains: "Let's face it, we simply can't cook everything. We have to use some base ingredients. But you won't find anything industrial here, nothing mass-produced. EVERY ingredient we use is the best and most authentic, freshest and tastiest. We taste every single item we use, the olives, the cheeses, the cured meats, the salt, the pepper, the oregano. I think I've rejected more products than most restaurants use in a year. I'll only use something if I'd eat it myself. Our reputation is at stake, and our success is based on that very attitude. People appreciate it."

That attitude had already made The Italian Deli an Island favorite, among both residents and visitors. Then came the pizza. " People thought we were crazy, to do pizza. Everyone does pizza, even the white tablecloth restaurants do pizzas. But another opportunity arose, and we went for it. " And they've never looked back. With their now trademark dedication to quality, they tested recipe after recipe looking for just the right mix to ultimately provide what has been called "the single most authentic New York style pizza in Southwest Florida."

And they still do the sandwiches.

And the cold cuts, artisanal meats and cheeses, olives, salads, Italian delicacies.

And the catering.

All prepared and served in a family atmosphere...by a family.


"We don't know what's next, but we're game. Come in and we'll talk."